I’m going to forewarn you a little of the contents of this review. I’m concerned I come across a little, erm… I believe the phrase is ‘Tookey’ after the much maligned film critic for the Daily Fail. Chris Tookey said of Watchmen, my favourite film of 2009 “This despicable trash will find an audience among sad sociopaths, deranged pseudo-intellectuals and brutalised, immature men of all ages”. Anyway, on with the review for I Spit On Your Grave 2.
I’ve got to say that one of the most surprising remake announcements of recent years was that of I Spit On Your Grave, the notorious video nasty directed by Meir Zarchi. I know in today’s climate of endless ‘re-imaginings’ as they’re shamefully called it was only a matter of time, but for some reason I couldn’t see I Spit On Your Grave as one of them. I like the original a lot, but I somehow felt it was a product of the era and I didn’t think it would translate to 2010. More surprisingly, I’ve got to say Steven R. Monroe’s stab at it was ‘ok’, especially considering the film community’s reluctance towards making r-rated horror these days.
With the remake done, news of a sequel came with a healthy exclamation of “WTF?”. A sequel to a remake whose original is a standalone picture? Call me cynical, but learning that it’s also a fresh story seems to be a convenient way of shooting a rape and revenge movie and ensuring it gets good revenue. However, cynicism aside we do have the returning Monroe in the writer / director’s chair, and there’s the intriguing casting of Brit Jemma Dallender in the lead role who gave such a great performance in the underrated hoodie horror Community.
We meet Jemma’s character Katie straight away as she’s in a diner attempting to extract an honest opinion from her friend as to the quality of her modelling pictures. Desperate for success, she’s been told by her agency that she needs a better portfolio and after viewing her pictures and classing them “too mid-western” her friend gives her the phone number of a free photography service. When she arrives at the studio she is greeted by Ivan (Joe Absolom) and his two brothers. They begin the shoot, but partway through after the suggestion that Katie should show a little more flesh, she decides it’s a step too far and leaves.
When she arrives back at her apartment she’s visited by one of Ivan’s brothers, Georgy (Yavor Baharov), who gives her the pictures whilst at the same time looking intensely suspicious. As expected, later that night Georgy returns, pins Katie to the floor and rapes her. Partway through the ordeal, Katie’s next door neighbour attempts to access the apartment and help, but in the act of doing so he’s stabbed several times by Georgy. Realising the mistake he’s made he calls his brothers to try and clean up the situation, and they do that by drugging Katie and shipping her from New York to Bulgaria. Yes – you read that right. Without revealing any major spoilers that you won’t have figured out even before you insert your DVD, Katie then manages to escape and wreak holy hell on her captors.
So here’s the Tookey bit – I Spit On Your Grave 2 goes too far. I feel that this movie shows such diabolical scenes of torture to such an extreme, it only serves to damage the picture. *Minor spoilers* One of the most lengthy scenes is the torture of one of the main characters during the last 15 minutes of the film. The scene is so prolonged and so unrelenting with the camera focusing directly on the area of torture, I felt the scene lost all its impact and instead just became deeply unpleasant.*End of minor spoilers*
I’m not averse to seeing scenes of torture, and I’m vehemently against that Daily Mail phrase of ‘torture porn’ which I find demeaning to people who enjoy horror movies. I wasn’t offended at the scene, I was just offended at being treated like a moron who doesn’t have the imagination to create the imagery in his head to understand the fear and pain that the character is enduring. Another criticism I found was that the level of torture involved lead me to dislike Katie. How perverted is that? At the end of Zarchi’s original, I felt the satisfaction, relief and empowerment of Jennifer Hills, but here I just felt pity towards Katie. Is it me, or is this morally very dangerous ground?
I like the reviews of Scott Weinberg who writes for Fearnet, and he made a pretty incisive statement in his thoughts on Spit 2, “This movie exists for people who want to watch men pretend to rape a woman. Let’s all aspire to be better than that”.